When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took Prince George to a playgroup in New Zealand his boisterous manner came as a surprise to many, not least to some of his little playmates. So with a little sister or brother on the way in the next few weeks how can the Duchess, née Kate Middleton, help her adorable toddler through a potentially challenging time? Rachel Burrows, Editor-at-Large of popular parenting site Netmums has a few tips to ease the transition. Read on to find out the dos and don'ts of introducing your child to a new baby.
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Prince George mingling at a playgroup in New Zealand
Is there any way Prince William and Kate can prepare George beforehand?
"George is still very young and will only be 21 months when the new Prince or Princess arrives, so his understanding will be limited, but there is a lot the Duke and Duchess can do to help prepare him for his new sibling. Books like Zaza’s Baby Brother and There’s a House Inside My Mummy are a great way to get toddlers used to the idea of a new baby.
"Kate will already by pointing out babies to George and getting him excited by the idea of having ‘his own’ baby. Letting a toddler pick out items for a new baby – like a soft toy, blanket or babygrow – will make him feel fully involved in the family. They may even wish to ask his opinion on the new baby’s name!"
Experts say William and Kate may want to offer George a gift when the new baby is born
Is there anything special they should do at the moment of introducing him to the new baby?
"It’s important to make the older sibling feel secure. While the royal couple can show him the new baby, the focus should be on George with lots of cuddles and kisses to let him know he’s still as loved as he ever was. And when visitors come to call, they should lavish lots of attention on George first so he doesn’t feel pushed out."
Should they give him a present?
"Lots of families find this works very well, with the baby ‘buying’ a gift for the elder sibling. Kate should find an item George really wants and have it there when the new baby is brought home to meet him, as a gift to his big brother."
How can Kate organise her time so he doesn’t feel left out?
"Two under two is exhausting – even if you are a royal! While Kate will have lots of help on hand, both children will want mummy’s attention."It can be tricky with a newborn especially if she chooses to breastfeed again as that can be very time consuming. But when the new baby naps, it’s time to devote her attention to George with lots of time for cosy cuddles and to play his favourite games. It’s very important to keep the elder sibling's routine in place as best you can so they don't feel their life has been turned upside down by the new arrival.
It's a good idea to give your eldest child lots of attention when the baby is asleep
Should they expect jealously attacks?
"Many mums of babies born close together as the royals' tots will be report that their elder child isn't jealous but more curious about the younger one. However it is a possibility and the family should prepare for it."
Kate was recently given a potty training book for George, who is nearly two. Should she be attempting anything so ambitious at this time?
"Experts agree starting potty training at the same time as a new arrival isn't ideal – it’s putting too much pressure on the new mum and expecting too much from the elder child who has had a big change in his life. Prince George isn't even two yet so there is plenty of time to potty train him. The couple could wait until midsummer when he turns two and will have had time to adjust to the new baby.
Kate's capable mother Carole Middleton can provide an extra set of hands
William is starting a new job soon, they will be living in the countryside in Norfolk, fairly far from her family. How can they organise themselves so the transition to being a family of four is as smooth as possible?
"Kate's mother Carole Middleton proved to be a hands-on grandmother with George and we expect her to step in and help the transition from three to four this time. Distance isn’t an issue when it's your family! Kate also has a trusted team around her and staff to help her run Anmer Hall and the new setting will mean an idyllic childhood for the Prince and his new sibling."
Kate was back carrying out public engagements within ten weeks of George's birth
When should she go back to work?
"While Kate is in demand with various charity commitments, there is no right time to return to work. After George’s birth she was attending functions within ten weeks. As the Duchess knows what to expect this time around, she may wish to stick to a similar timeline, or it could be she wants to spend more time with her young family now there are two children to care for. Like all mums, it is a very personal decision and one where being royal takes a backseat to being a mum!"